A couple of weeks ago, I was working with a client of mine at Aim2Walk when she shared a personal story about a special school event she was not able to attend due to it not being accessible. Although this young talented woman was being a presenter at this formal event, she was not going to be able to partake in the after party because she needs an entrance without stairs. Generally her school Ryerson University is very accommodating to those with special needs, so I was confused as to why she was being treated so unfairly this time. It turns out, the function was being organized by some of her fellow classmates, and one 27-year-old man in particular made the phone call informing her that she was not going to be able to participate in this event.
My blood was boiling and something needed to be done to fix this problem. After speaking with my boyfriend, who just so happens to be a Detective for the Toronto Police, he informed me to visit the website www.aoda.ca. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. The purpose for this act is to recognize the history of discrimination against persons with disabilities in Ontario and to benefit all Ontarians by developing, implementing and enforcing accessibility. Basically, I was told that if this function were to be held knowing that she was unable to attend due to her disability, the function could both be shut down and the organizers could potentially be given a very large fine.
Before leaping into action and due to my clients wishes, I did not act right away. I instead decided to make a phone call to the bar Tattoo where the event was being held. A very nice man named Nathan answered the phone and explained to me that they both had a ramp for her to get inside as well as an elevator to the downstairs private bathroom. I was both extremely happy to hear this yet shocked as to why this had become such a problem for no reason. This was supposed to be an exciting night for this young woman’s University career, one she would never forget and unfortunately due to the ignorance of one man, it was already a headache before the night had begun.
I can understand if an individual does not have any close friends or family in a chair, they may not think about those who may possibly need the proper accommodations for entering a building as well as a private washroom. However, this man not only knew that she was on wheels, but he chose to make the selfish decision to leave her out as well as make her angry and sad about a lifestyle that she already has to live with each and every day. Words cannot explain how angry and frustrated I am with this certain individual and I hope this will never, ever happen again!
I would like to say that, not only did my client rock the night at the awards ceremony, she also enjoyed her night with close friends dancing to wee hours in the morning.
Lets be the change and be aware of others who have certain needs. Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes, (or wheels!)